Blue creature of old Saturday morning TV / MON 2-8-16 / 1962 007 villain

Monday, February 8, 2016

Constructor: Paolo Pasco

Relative difficulty: Normal, probably

THEME: IT COUPLES (61: Tabloid twosomes ... or a hint to the answers to the starred clues)— theme answers have a couple of "IT"s each:

Theme answers:
  • ITSY BITSY (17A: *Like a nursery rhyme spider)
  • NITTY GRITTY (11D: *Basics, informally)
  • SWIMSUIT EDITION (39A: *Big seller for Sports Illustrated)
  • CAPITAL CITY (26D: *Place often marked with a star on 24-Down [i.e. MAPS])
Word of the Day: ATP (22D: Org. for Nadal and Federer)
The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) was formed in September 1972 by Donald Dell, Bob Briner, Jack Kramer, and Cliff Drysdale to protect the interests of male professional tennis players. Drysdale became the first President. Since 1990, the association has organized the worldwide tennis tour for men and linked the title of the tour with the organization's name. In 1990 the organization was called the ATP Tour, which was renamed in 2001 as just ATP and the tour being called ATP Tour. In 2009 the name was changed again and is now known as the ATP World Tour. It is an evolution of the tour competitions previously known as Grand Prix tennis tournaments and World Championship Tennis (WCT). // The ATP's global headquarters are in London, United Kingdom. ATP Americas is based in Ponte Vedra Beach, United States; ATP Europe is headquartered in Monaco; and ATP International, which covers Africa, Asia and Australasia, is based in Sydney, Australia. // The counterpart organization in the women's professional game is the Women's Tennis Association (WTA). (wikipedia)
• • •

My time was ridiculous on this—Wednesdayish—but that's because I had a typo that led to a cross I could Not get, namely 22D AT- / 32A -RIT (should've been -RIG). I had no idea what the tennis org. was, and the only answers I was considering were ATA and ATF. If that final letter had been inferrable, I'd've caught my typo much quicker. Gah. I often make typos on early-week puzzles, because my fingers are awful clumsy on the keyboard, but those typos rarely lead to my getting (fake-) Naticked. While the fault is entirely mine, I don't understand putting ATP in this puzzle. It's not a well known initialism, not like NFL or MLB or NHL or NBA, so while it's definitely valid, it's not something I'd use unless I *had* to (i.e. it's not, uh, good). And here, you don't  have to. LOB / OTT is better. Even LIB / ITT is better, frankly. It is true that PRIG beats TRIG for, let's say, color, but ATP is sub-desirable, for sure, and since it's easily eradicated, it should've been. Still, I must concede, I'm probably not pointing out this minor infelicity if I don't typo my way into a mess there.  Maybe OTT would've been seen as too close to OTTO, and ITT to ITSY BITSY (?). It's possible.

The theme! It's pretty OK. I had to look up to see if people still use the term "IT COUPLE(S)," and it looks like they do. Mildly impressive there are zero "IT"s outside the theme answers. The fill was clean and lively for a Monday. I especially approve of GOLFCLAP, as I was the first person ever to put that answer in one of his puzzles. And in *exactly* the same position in the grid, too. Thanks for the homage, Paolo.

 [LAT, Jan. 19, 2011]

I should also point out the impressive arrangement of themers, with that central SWIMSUIT EDITION cutting right through the two long Downs. Always tricky to run long themers through one another. I also wanna give a shout-out to SNICKERS, which was the name of my childhood cat, as well as the name of the candy bar that my wife and I *demolished* in Wegmans today. I mean, I grabbed it at the register, total impulse buy, then the cashier asked if I wanted to "hold it" and I was like, "Do I!" Then I tore it open and bit and handed it to Sandy and she bit and that thing was gone before hit the exit doors. It really satisfied us. Thanks, SNICKERS.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Resort island in Firthy of Clyde / SUN 2-7-16 / Orthoodox jewish honorific / Charlie Chan portrayer Warner / Legendary Washington hostess / Luna's Greek counterpart / Southern constellation that holds second-brightest star in night sky

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Adding Insult" — "DIS" is added to familiar phrases, creating wacky blah blah you know the drill:

Theme answers:
  • DISCREDIT CARDS (22A: Damage a St. Louis team's reputation?)
  • TABLE OF DISCONTENTS (29A: Ones giving the waiter a hard time?)
  • DISPLAYS FOR A FOOL (48A: Harlequin exhibitions?)
  • DISBAND ON THE RUN (63A: Flee in separate directions?)
  • ELLA DISENCHANTED (86A: Result of the Queen of Scat's backup group messing up?)
  • CAMEO DISAPPEARANCE (101A: Jewel heist outcome?)
  • DISBAR AND GRILL (113A: Question harshly after not allowing to practice?)
Word of the Day: CARINA (24A: Southern constellation that holds the second-brightest star in the night sky) —
Carina /kəˈrnə/ is a constellation in the southern sky. Its name is Latin for the keel of a ship, and it was formerly part of the larger constellation of Argo Navis (the ship Argo) until that constellation was divided into three pieces, the other two being Puppis (the poop deck), and Vela (the sails of the ship). (wikipedia)
• • •

This puzzle is unimaginably bad. Despite the fact that I criticize puzzles, even good ones, every day, all the time, it is actually very rare that I outright Hate a puzzle—that I resent the time it took me to solve it (let alone the time it takes me to write about it). So I'm not gonna waste too much time writing about this one. Let's just say that "Adding Insult" is about right. There are so many HURTERS (what the actual...!?) in this puzzle, it's hard to know where to begin. So I'll begin with the theme, which is tired, lazy, dated hackery of the first order. After I got the first themer (DISCREDIT CARDS, ugh), I said out loud (though no one was around to hear me), "Oh, no, this isn't just gonna be a bunch of DIS answers, is it?" I cannot—I mean canNot—believe this passed muster. First, I've seen variations on this exact theme before. Second, who cares? Why? There is nothing funny or interesting or clever about the resulting "wacky" phrases? Zero. Just add DIS ... over and over and over and over Why? So "Ella Enchanted" becomes "ELLA DISENCHANTED"!? That's it? Dear lord above, that registers like a 0.1 on the Wordplay Scale. Half the time DIS- is just used as a negative prefix. So "cameo appearance" becomes [drum roll] CAMEO DISAPPEARANCE! Get it!? Me either.

And the fill ... I can't believe I'm saying this, I can't believe it's physically possible, but ... it's worse. It's in even worse shape than the sad, hobbling, hackneyed theme. I circled all the semi-to-very objectionable answers on my grid, and it's just an inky mess now. It was like one of those All-Star games where they bring back the old-timers, only instead of people you want to see like Hank Aaron and Sandy Koufax, it's ABOU Ben Adhem and Perle MESTA and Mme. de STAEL and Warner OLAND (riding an ELAND). There's LOEWE on IWO. A SOR ON RYE. There's SELENE crossing DE SICA in what will surely be a Natick for someone (SELENA / DA SICA looks totally acceptable). OTOH, there's ULNAR A DUE (because it takes two to ULNAR). There's something I've never seen before called CARINA. The puzzle is sincerely asking me to believe that you can pluralize FM (!?) (37A: Most NPR stations). And then the coup de grace: NOT crossing NOT in the NE. Seriously. That actually happened. In short, this is the most inexcusably bad Sunday puzzle I've seen in ages. From top to bottom, stem to stern, APEAK to PAIUTE. Gooood night.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


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